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[box type=”success” align=”aligncenter” ]This article was first published in Karting magazine. Subscribe to Karting magazine here and get three issues for just £1.[/box]
The circuit has a lot of long, mid or late apex corners, which makes it difficult to overtake, but does allow for great racing. It’s also very flat and has little gradient change. Owner-driver teams love this particular layout because it is perfect for testing and setting up a new kart. You can really push on a flying lap around here.
The start/finish straight is parallel and right next to the clubhouse, running right to left as you look at it. As you power down that strip of tarmac, you should start to pull the kart to the left-hand side of the track as you pass underneath the fabulous, and rather professional looking, set of lights.
Approaching at some rate of knots this corner is very fast, so you should aim to carry most of the speed through. The corner bends away from you, but in two places, so the actual target apex is not what you originally see – it’s the one further around the corner. It’s a small thing that the first-timers don’t pick up on until their time is up, but all of the professionals know better. You should stick to the far outside of the track – you’ll see the rubber that’s been put down here which you can use as a solid reference. A touch of the brakes and you’ll get through no problem, just so long as you don’t run over the kerb on the inside or the outside, which, like every kerb at Bayford Meadows, will ultimately slow you down.
The element that makes this sequence so difficult is that the whole corner is made up of three individual turns, but it’s all taken in one go. The driver should hit the first 90 degree corner rapidly, but start to brake when going through the apex of the corner, so you’re essentially braking and turning at the same time, whilst straightening out the line as much as possible. Aim to end up on the far side of the track, so you can hit the hairpin bit’s apex as late as you can, straightening up the last turn – a small left kink – in this terrifying series of corners. There’s also a surprising mix between grip and no grip, which increases the difficulty, but it can be achieved with practice and persistence and is where the winning drivers show their worth.
After Turn Two, this one is really rather simple. In essence, it’s a basic hairpin, with a fast approach. Brake in a straight line, keeping as far to the outside as you’re able to. This will help you through the exit and into the next corner too.
This is a a symmetrical hairpin, soon follows, for which you will need to prepare in advance, by pulling back over to the left-hand side. There is a kerb on the exit, which, although tempting, should be avoided. Now, although Four is basically the same corner as Three, it must be taken much slower. This is because the entrance to Five is only just around the corner. When travelling around Turn Four, do not run wide towards the far side of the circuit as you normally would – instead, keep turning the wheel so that you stay on the right at the exit. This small compromise will set you up perfectly for the 45 degree turn 5
Requires a more dedicated exit. Like the previous turns, Five should be treated smoothly, whilst hitting a mid-late apex and avoiding the kerb on the inside, as well as the outside kerb, unless absolutely necessary.
This is a long, seemingly never-ending corner – it reminds me of Turn One at F1’s Shanghai circuit, only in reverse. Two lines can be taken through here, inside or outside. The traditional racing line is wide around the outside and turning sharply late-on, to hit, once again, another late apex, which will set you up for Turn Seven. Sometimes, drivers will choose to run up the inside, but usually as a place to chance an easy overtake. I was also told that there are two types of asphalt here and different teams prefer one to the other, throwing up some interesting decisions every race weekend.
Another ‘switchback’ style corner; you throw the kart back in the opposite direction. It’s another long corner that doesn’t need you to touch any apexes, you just need to smooth the corner out to maintain speed.
This corner is taken without a change of the wheel from Turn Seven, as you continue to take the kart around it. Like Seven, it’s not essential that you meet Eight’s apex, but you should stay reasonably close, about a metre away.
Another corner with a hidden twist – from the top; it appears to be a reasonable 90 degree bend, which it is – a simple ‘enter on the left side, apex, and exit on the right side’. But, there is a small ‘ditch’ on the grass at the entrance, where the kerb, or failing that, grass, would normally be. It only needs one opportunity to notify you of its presence, but without warning, if you drop a wheel in it, you’ll end up in on the grass opposite, so be careful here. On the exit, there is another rough kerb, which you will be forced to run over if you have taken Nine flat, but it’s no biggie – because the final corner is just ahead.
It feels like an extended right-left chicane. Find your braking point – I suggest where the circuit has an uneven look to it – and hit the brakes in a straight line. Pull the kart in towards the edge of the track on your right and power out. The track then kinks back left, but there’s the barrier wall of the outside of the circuit to avoid – just accelerate past it, getting as close as you dare to reduce time.
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